ONE DAY IN ANTWERP, BELGIUM
Belgium is , with no doubt, a country full of charming, picturesque, little towns, cities and villages with big doses of romance and endless miles of pebble stoned narrow streets, getting you back to medieval times. Add the breathtaking scent of butter waffles and hot chocolate, and you'll get the full picture.
Antwerp though, is a beyond weird combination of all of the above with some kind of modernity...
Let us explain ourselves : In Antwerp you will find all of the things which the city is popular for, co-existing in a unique way. Art, fashion, commerce, architecture, diamonds can all be enjoyed in the city of Antwerp, Belgium's biggest port.
During its days of glory, Antwerp was an artists' meeting point and one of the wealthiest places in the world, mainly thanks to its port, through wich diamonds, silver, textiles and much more were transported .
Today, Antwerp is also known as Belgium's fashion capital thanks to its numerous fashion designers ,famous for their experimantal style.
If you reach Antwerp by train, you will inevitably spend a few minutes to snap its stunning Train Station, which could easily be a reason itself to visit the city, thanks to both its interior and exterior design. Once you exit the train station, you can either keep walking straight ahead, or turn on your right and be headed to Antwerp's Chinatown (the shrine gate will show you the way).
Make sure to get yourself a citymap, offered in the Train Station, so that you can get a sense of orientation in the city. Either you choose to walk or ride a bike, Antwerp is a quite easy to get around city, despite its size.
One of Antwerp's most recognisable sites, is its gothic style "Our Lady Cathedral", the belfry of which is one of UNESCO's world heritage sites. The church is only a few steps away from the city's Grote Markt (Central Market Square), which hosts Antwerp's City Hall, an impressive (yet peculiar) fountain and many bistros, cafes and restaurants, ideal for visitors to wish to take a break.
A day of explorations in Antwerp couldn't be completed without a visit to the city's oldest construction : Het Steen (aka The Stone), a medieval fortress, which has also been used as a prison, a residence, a sawmill ,a warehouse and a museum until 2008. Today, it functions as a ''visitors' center'', mostly visited by children and families, but also by youngsters and older people.
Last but not least, walk a few metres away fro the medieval fortress till you reach the MAS, a museum dedicated to Antwerp's history, which also hosts the exhibits once hosted by Het Steen, when it functioned as a National Maritime Museum. The MAS is an impressively constructed building, situated in the new port, also offering the chance to climb up to its terrace (for free) and get a panoramic view of the city. All around Antwerp's new port, cute cafes and restaurants are located, waiting for you to indulge the delicious flemish treats.
Culture lovers will find Antwerp an exciting place to visit, as it hosts a quite big number of museums and galleries, such as the Modern Art Museum, the Diamonds Museum, the Fashion Museum, the Photo Museum and so many more. Rubens' House is also one of the city's highlits!